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  • Some of the most popular drugs in the United States are marijuana and hallucinogens (such as LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, and PCP). These substances impact your mood, thoughts, and sensory perceptions. 

    In the last year, they have surged in popularity among young Americans.

    Marijuana & Hallucinogen Use Among Young Americans

    Among Americans aged 19 to 30, marijuana and hallucinogen use has increased significantly compared to five and 10 years ago. 

    These findings come from the Monitoring the Future panel study. The study, which was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, used data from online surveys collected between April and October 2021. 

    What The Study Found

    The study showed that in 2021, 43% of young Americans used marijuana, compared to 34% in 2016 and 29% in 2011. Also, 12% of young people reported vaping marijuana, compared to 6% in 2017. 

    In addition, a record-high 8% of young Americans used a hallucinogen, compared to 5% in 2016 and 3% in 2011. However, use of the hallucinogen MDMA (also called ecstasy or molly) decreased from 5% in 2016 to 3% in 2021. 

    Both marijuana and hallucinogens pose serious health risks, especially when used by young people.

    Risks Of Marijuana Use Among Young People

    Many teenagers and young adults view marijuana as harmless. However, the drug can have serious side effects, including:

    • anxiety and panic
    • paranoia (feeling irrationally suspicious or distrustful of others)
    • delusions (holding beliefs that aren’t based in reality)
    • hallucinations (seeing, hearing, or feeling things that aren’t there)
    • poor memory
    • nausea and vomiting
    • trouble thinking and solving problems
    • lung problems (from smoking or vaping marijuana)

    Young people face additional risks. In particular, they are more likely than adults to develop marijuana addiction. 

    Marijuana Addiction

    According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 1 in 6 people who start using marijuana before age 18 will become addicted to it, compared to 1 in 10 people who start using it as adults. 

    People who start using marijuana as teenagers may also experience problems with thinking, learning, and memory. That’s because the drug can hinder brain development. 

    Mental Health & Other Issues

    In addition, some studies have linked marijuana use among teenagers to mental health problems like depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. However, it has not been determined whether the drug actually causes these issues. 

    Finally, according to SAMHSA, young people who use marijuana may face worse educational outcomes, lower career achievement, relationship problems, and reduced life satisfaction. 

    Risks Of Hallucinogen Use Among Young People

    There are two types of hallucinogens: classic hallucinogens (such as LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, and DMT) and dissociative drugs (such as ketamine, PCP, and DXM). 

    Each type poses unique risks. These risks may be higher for young people, particularly those under age 25 whose brains are still developing. 

    Risks Of Classic Hallucinogens

    The most common risks associated with classic hallucinogens include anxiety, panic, and psychosis. 

    Psychosis is a temporary loss of connection with reality that typically involves paranoia, delusions, and hallucinations. It can also cause problems with thinking and communicating.

    Usually, symptoms of hallucinogen-induced psychosis fade once the drug leaves your system. However, some people develop Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD). People with this condition may experience hallucinations and other visual disturbances for more than a year after they last used hallucinogens. 

    Risks Of Dissociative Drugs

    Like classic hallucinogens, dissociative drugs can cause panic, anxiety, and psychosis. Other short-term effects may include seizures, an inability to move, and difficulty breathing, especially if you use the drugs at high doses.

    Some people who use dissociative drugs may also experience long-term effects, including memory loss, speech problems, and depression. Like HPPD, these effects can last for more than a year after you used the drug. 

    Are Hallucinogens Addictive? 

    Studies suggest that some hallucinogens are addictive. For example, many people who quit PCP after using it on a regular basis report withdrawal symptoms such as sweating, headaches, and drug cravings. 

    Other hallucinogens are not addictive but may still cause symptoms of addiction. 

    For instance, people who frequently use LSD may develop a tolerance to it. That means they will need increasingly larger or more frequent doses to feel the drug’s effects. This may make them more likely to experience the drug’s dangers.

    Marijuana & Hallucinogen Addiction Treatment Options

    If you or someone you love feels unable to stop using marijuana or hallucinogens, seek help at an addiction treatment program. These programs offer evidence-based treatments to help you stay sober, such as:

    • mental health counseling, in which a therapist helps you cope with drug cravings and any mental health concerns that may have contributed to your drug abuse
    • medical detox, in which doctors help you stay comfortable and healthy as you get drugs out of your system
    • support groups, in which you can connect with other people recovering from drug addiction

    To learn more about addiction treatment options, please reach out to an Ark Behavioral Health specialist. Our inpatient and outpatient treatment programs provide personalized, comprehensive care to help your or your loved one become drug-free.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2024 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.

    National Institute on Drug Abuse - Cannabis (Marijuana) DrugFacts
    National Institute on Drug Abuse - Hallucinogens DrugFacts
    National Institute on Drug Abuse - Is there a link between marijuana use and psychiatric disorders?
    National Institute on Drug Abuse - Marijuana and hallucinogen use among young adults reached all time-high in 2021
    Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration - Know the Risks of Marijuana

    Medically Reviewed by
    Kimberly Langdon M.D.
    on November 14, 2022
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